CDP's Equitable Neighborhoods practice works with grassroots groups, neighborhood organizations and community coalitions to help make sure that people of color, immigrants, and other low-income residents who have built our city are not pushed out in the name of “progress.” We work together with our partners and clients to ensure that residents in historically under-resourced areas have stable housing they can afford, places where they can connect and organize, jobs to make a good living, and other opportunities that allow people to thrive. CDP is one of the only legal services organizations in the City that provides tools and support to make sure that residents have a say in the future of their neighborhoods. Our partners and clients take the lead in our work, and we enhance their capacity so that residents can directly influence decisions that shape their communities.
|Community members in front of the Kingsbridge Armory. Photo credit: Charles Fostrom/RWDSU.|
CDP’s Equitable Neighborhoods practice can:
- Provide technical information and strategic advice
- Help clients educate community members and the public about law and policy
- Facilitate discussions to support the development of decision-making practices within groups or coalitions
- Analyze the impact of planned developments or rezonings
- Demand information from government officials and agencies
- Support negotiations for enforceable agreements with developers to provide specific benefits to the community
- File lawsuits on behalf of community groups and coalitions
- Work with clients to research, develop, write, and advocate for legislation
- Help connect neighborhood-based groups to others working on similar issues around the City
- Work with community groups to craft messages and conduct media outreach in support of their campaigns
CDP’s Equitable Neighborhoods practice supports groups when they respond to government-initiated projects and plans, including neighborhood rezonings; when they want to understand and influence big private development projects coming to their area; as they create or defend important community spaces; and when they work to ensure public assets are used for public good. We also support grassroots efforts to change laws and policies that perpetuate structural inequality and displace local people, businesses, and community institutions.
Respond to Government-Initiated Projects and Plans
CDP works with grassroots groups when City or state agencies propose new plans for their community. Sometimes, the plans are for a single, large site owned by the City or another public entity, such as NYCHA; other times, the City is seeking to change the rules that govern what and how much can be built in a neighborhood, paving the way for dramatic changes. When the City initiates projects like this, all too often it ignores the experience, desires, and local expertise of the residents who stand to be most impacted. CDP works to help community members understand the process, identify points of leverage, and play a decisive role in what happens next. As the City prepares to rezone up to 15 neighborhoods over the next several years and to build mixed-income housing on NYCHA campuses across New York, CDP is partnering with neighborhood coalitions to ensure that they have the information and tools they need to engage in the process and ensure that the needs of local people are met, now and in the future.
Impact Private Development Projects
CDP works with community partners to challenge proposed private developments that the community wants to stop, modify, or secure public benefits around. Community groups have leverage to challenge private developments where a developer needs City approval to build more, build taller, or otherwise change the rules that determine what’s allowed on a piece of land; when a project involves public land or financing; and in other situations. CDP helps local groups identify these pressure points and shape the future of the project through advocacy, lawsuits, or negotiations to secure contracts with developers for community benefits, such as local living wage jobs, deeply affordable housing, and community space.
Create and Defend Community Spaces
CDP partners with residents, neighborhood-based organizations and coalitions to protect existing local spaces and support efforts to create new places for organizing, economic empowerment, and community-building. We develop community land trusts that preserve affordable housing and other key assets, defend community property from speculators, advocate for the re-opening of public buildings for public use, and work with groups to create long-term plans to develop and preserve places of power.
Ensure Public Assets Are Used for Public Good
CDP helps guide the public conversation around and specific strategies for the sale, lease, development, or preservation of public real estate assets, including land and buildings held for the people of New York City by city, state and federal government agencies. We are developing NYCommons.org to bring transparency to dispositions of these key assets and to help local organizers network with others across the City in similar struggles.
Policymaking Around Structural Inequality and Displacement
Every day, local people, businesses, and community institutions are disappearing from our neighborhoods. This is not just the result of unstoppable market forces. Instead, City and state policies often fail to take reasonable steps to protect less powerful interests, or leave too much room for private bad actors to exploit vulnerable people and institutions. CDP supports grassroots efforts to change laws and policies that perpetuate structural inequality and displace local people, businesses, and community institutions. We work with community organizations to research, develop, and advocate for ground-up, community-based policy proposals to protect low-income tenants, safeguard community spaces, ensure government accountability, and more.
As part of its support for grassroots policymaking, CDP works with its partners to design, administer, analyze and write participatory action research reports. These reports are used by our partners to educate community members, engage elected officials, garner media attention and advocate for socially just policies.
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